Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The passion journal says:

Romantics try to create a new and better world far from the drabness of everyday life.

Howard Schultz

And I was sitting here listening to Mary J. Blige singing about looking for "someone to set my heart free."

I am relating to both of those sentiments today. You?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

part of what's getting me through ...

I am on the serious countdown... one week from today, I will be flying to Las Vegas, so see my favorite singer and band in the world... thanks to my lil sis.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I wrote a long, possibly not interesting, piece on my toe's unfortunate meeting with a wine bottle. Then I accidentally erased it.

So I will just wish you a happy Friday, and suggest you remember to listen to Story Corps today at NPR. It's about teachers and family.

 UPDATE: I  heard this on the radio this morning and had to go find it.... if you haven't heard Zach Wahls talk about his family, you need to hear this.  I certainly would be proud to call this young man my son.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I did not win the lottery.  They say you have to play to win, so I bought a powerball ticket at the truck stop on Tuesday afternoon.  Just checked the numbers, and none of mine were even close.

I am not sure if I am lucky at anything... but this does not inspire me to want to go to the casino any time soon.

On the other hand, the spa was lovely.  It is not the kind of thing I can spend dollars on every month, but every once in a while, I enjoy taking advantage of the monthly special ...or using my waribiki (discount) card.

I don't have much else to share, except I listened to this story yesterday morning while I was getting ready, and I hope that it has filtered through the communities ... I perked up when I heard the pastor say "I am a recovering racist..."

There is much to be said for these folks stepping up and saying what they know to be true.  These anti-immigrant laws are racist and meant to hurt people.  And they are certainly not Christian laws... if we are to believe what is sold on Sundays.

Of course, the balance of the story is represented by other folks claiming law-and-order as the ends that justify their means.

Just once, I would like a reporter to challenge the notion that immigrants take more than they give... particularly when someone like the man in this story specifically implicates this law as protecting out of work people ... does he also not know (probably not) that the undocumented pay taxes (often without hope of ever getting their fair share returned)?  He clearly does not know that those taxes contribute in the millions to paying for services for citizens and non-citizens alike.

This is another one of those situations when it seems most expeditious to blame the person with the least power for the problems created by the ones with the most power.

When, if ever, will we get mad enough at the richest to demand that they pay their fair share?

I was thinking this would be a really good time to stage Les Miserables... on every corner, with discussion groups and blog commentary and local news casters having to "explain" the meaning of the French Revolution.

Just a thought...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

weathering the storm

When I chose the pictures for this piece, I titled it "storming..." and then I walked away.  Not ready to share exactly what I was going through.  I am not really sure I am yet, either, but this draft remains open on my desktop, taunting me.  Truth be told, I took these pictures as a storm was threatening to move over the mesa.  When I started writing, I was in the eye of the storm.
They say when you are in the eye of the storm there is a calm.  All around you the elements are doing their best to let you know just how small you really are, but right where you stand, there is no motion.  I don't know if that is the best description for how I was feeling.  Surely there was a lot of swirling going on around me, but calm was not something I could grab hold of.  Maybe it wasn't what I wanted either.
There was a part of me that just wanted to hurt, to rage, to cry, to let go.  Let go.  That's what I wanted to do.  I wanted to let go, forget, and stop feeling.  But there was this other part of me that didn't want to see the Berlin wall go up, again, around my heart.  There was this little part, quietly advocating for the feelings, for hope, for hope against hope because that is what it feels like to be vulnerable.
I fucking hate what it feels like to be vulnerable.  I imagine that there are benefits.  I try to list them regularly... it's the utter lack of control, the uncertainty that vulnerability reinforces that I hate.  And, yet, I understand, not just intellectually, that this is real life. 

Someone I knew used to say that limitations are imaginary.  I say control is imaginary.  Whatever plan we imagine we have put into motion is just that ... imagined.  Plans, like life, go in whichever direction the wind moves them. 

Here's what that eye of the storm felt like:  waking up to the thunder/lightning storm right above your apartment.  Rain crashing down, carried through the window by the howling wind, and the walls shaking with each thunderbolt.  The power flashes off briefly and then comes back on ... just to let you know this is not a dream, or a nightmare.  This is life.  Welcome home.

And as soon as it blew in, it blows out again, and you are not allowed to take it personally (even though you are a person -- as Holly Golightly might say, "quelle contradiction").

As a reward for being human and subject to the whims of the universe and victim of so many well laid plans, I am taking myself to the spa today.  I hope you are doing something for yourself today, whether it is taking a walk, a nap, drinking in the heat or the wind or the rain, or planning how you will spend the hurricane heading your way.

Photo credits:  me, fancy camera, on the road, I-40, August 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

the wayward whale and our changing world

I read this article about a wayward whale that came home to a group of Native Americans to die.

The article describes how the natural world can demonstrate the changes happening to our planet that we are ignoring.

I find it so interesting to read this article, to see it displayed so plainly.

There have been so many articles about the droughts and severe weather, and juxtaposed with those, some articles about Governor R. Perry suggesting that Texans pray for rain in one speech and intimating that there is no such thing as global warming in another.

I think maybe we should tell the people from Texas (and any other faithful) to pray for a leader that will be straight with them about the environment.  Someone who can think through how to balance using/extracting natural resources with techniques that do not trash the planet.  You know, someone who can be honest about the trade off between having all these oil/natural gas, etc, companies as the backbone of your economy and actually having an environment where people (and animals) can live and thrive.

Well... that is what this article made me think about ... what about you?

Photo credits:  me, now broken digital camera, Whales in Alaska, July 2008.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

all I can manage

I am trying desperately to trudge through the work I have due TOMORROW...

and all I can manage to share today are articles...

so, here is one about race, class and privilege ... I haven't seen the movie based on another story like this, but I imagine this more succinctly describes the situation.

I am interested in how the Los Angeles Times portrays this story as a rivalry between two sides of the Bay (not hiding the notion that Bay Area folks can be as violent as Southern Californians).  [The updated headline goes directly to the Times point, it was not quite as direct what I read it this morning.] I almost missed the story on because they were not playing up the rivalry angle in the headline.  My first thought, however, was that perhaps there is more here about the economy and our overall angst about our future mixed together with the well studied high testosterone levels associated with folks watching sporting events.

On a lighter note, I am counting down to seeing this again in a few weeks... it will be a much needed respite from all the emotions swirling.  Really looking forward to it...

And to help us out of the dumps, someone who just does it... whatever needs to be done.  We could use a few more like her everywhere.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

too much

There are far too many ideas swirling in my head to make any sense of them.  Instead, I offer some articles I am relishing ... some I found, some sent by others.

One on online dating ... thinking through what people say, in their profiles, in their emails to people on dating sites, etc... a friend shared this with me. I offer it back to the internet from which it spawned.

There is too much to say about this story... I have been carefully following the local and the national coverage of the story.  [I post here links to the stories from FOX news and from Arizona, not a little tongue in cheek.] I was waiting for the news flash that this gentleman, who risked his very own safety, livelihood and place of residence to help the child of another was in fact in this country without documents.  Surprise, surprise... and I must say that NM's governor has a lot of nerve to release a statement that continues to support taking driver's licenses away from people like this man ... who without that license would not have been able to follow the kidnapper much less have a car with insurance.  Dogmatism apparently has never met logic.

Also been following the government's new stance on immigration ... it is the cousin of the non-denial denial, I fear.  Offering partial clemency, partial status is not dealing with the immigration issue; on the other hand, if you are one of the virtuous, surely this gives you reason to hope.  For me, it provides another look at the cynicism of what we call "government," sadly.  I bow my head in shame at this one, as should many, many others...

On a lighter and happier note, turns out Los Angeles is not only car-friendly, it is also mass transit friendly.  I have actually been saying this for a while... I love getting around LA without a car... also don't mind it when someone else is driving me around.  I admit it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Trying to Catch a Deluge in a Paper Cup

This feels like the longest week ever... and there is still one day to get through.

Perhaps it is for the best considering the next sixteen weeks will be much like this one ... teaching two classes and working 10 more hours on the other job; finishing up the oral history project as a gift to my professor; and generally trying to have a life...

And life marches on... looking forward to the last weekend of semi freedom.  I will plunge deep into work despite it being my that last free weekend.  Hopefully I will feel inspired to be dedicated and motivated for the semester. 

Happy Friday to you ... whatever you are doing and however you are feeling.

(Oh, brownie points for identifying the title's reference... No one has claimed previously offered bonus points.)

Photo credit: me, fancy camera, Squaw Valley, CA... June 2010 on the mini hike.  I have an obsession with trying to capture running water on film.  [Shaking my head] Something akin to trying to hold water in your cupped hand.  Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4:35 AM

I am struggling to be impressed with the fact that my neighbors can party until this hour. I mean, that is impressive, no? Clearly they have stamina, in part, because they are young. But their dedication to partying is also admirable.

I wonder, quietly to myself, if this is the apartment from which the stretcher emerged last spring when I awoke at 3:00 am to the thunder of the fire engine motor outside my window.

I wonder if it was one of their friends who drove a car onto the wall next to my apartment last spring and then asked any and all passers-by for help until he got tired and then left the car there to take a nap. It was a bit of a comedic scene until one of the helpers called the police and I woke to the huge towing truck's engine roaring outside my window.


I am also struggling to be impressed with how they project their voices so forcefully after a night of partying. Some nights I am amused by their conversations, redundant as they may be sometimes. I imagine they yell the same phrase over and over to be sure we are all clear on what has been said. You wouldn't want your audience left wondering.

This morning, me neighbor of the wild dyed black hair and ripped tights is wearing jingle bells that she seems to play by running back and forth beneath my window. Clearly those bells are accompaniment to the vocals she intones.

Perhaps she wanted to be sure not to get lost. Or she could be just announcing a bunch of angels getting their wings. [brownie points to those who can name that movie.]

I am just hoping none of them have car keys now. It is plenty warm enough to sleep right there on the grass though the sun will be up in a few hours.

Ah... I have now been awake long enough for my alarm to go off.

This might be a sign that I should move.


[You will have to draw your own illustrations for this post.]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Several (gosh more than 7) weeks ago, I followed my heart.  Maybe I didn't do it in the most elegant way.  Perhaps someday I will learn how to make declarations without being drunk.  Maybe not.

I was honest... open, vulnerable.  *More* would fit perfectly before all of those words, too.  I would ask you to picture it, but I am not sure that is a good idea.

For these seven weeks, whenever I had the emotional strength, I have relished the victory of saying how I feel rather than hiding it.

Most days have been a roller coaster: one minute up and the next diving into despair.

Some days, especially the really busy ones, have been blessed with feeling proud, unprotected yet secure, present, open to impermanence, powerful, susceptible, and perfect in my imperfection.

I have swayed, bent and sometimes doubled with the pain of uncertainty.  I have intellectualized, considered, fretted, breathed, and sought advice.

I have used the hardest feelings as a way to find clarity.  I have felt most of what swirled around me (I am so very imperfect that I have also hidden from some of those feelings, to no avail).

But mostly, I lived. 

Uncertainty reigns, but so does buoyancy and the world keeps on spinning...

Photo credit: me, fancy camera, on the road to McCarty, NM. I don't know the name of the church. This picture looks better really big.  Second photo is from the train adventures last summer.  I think this one is pretty close to Santa Barbara, but I am not sure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer of Files (part 1)

A good portion of the summer has been spent with files -- on the computer, with James Rockford (ok, yes the ability to stream came upon my return from NJ as my internet bandwidth has magically been diminishing like the water from a reservoir in a drought stricken area), and files of another J named man I have never met.

Jimmy Rockford and Dr. J have that and not much else in common. I have never met either yet I know an awful lot about both of them. Rockford is, of course, a fictional character -- human, flawed, yet manly, capable, and on occasion, chivalrous and unselfish -- frequently buffeted by the repercussions of the way he chooses to live his life and sometimes just by circumstance or coincidence.

Dr. J. is a real person, though since I do not know him, only through his files, books and papers, he lives in my imagination as a character. I have been one of several graduate students using his abandoned office for the year (he had been on medical leave and has now retired without having returned for his belongings). You'll recall a posting about a strange break in -- in some ways, it was the catalyst for this part of the story (the summer of files).

Monday, August 15, 2011

breathing in and out... or at least trying

In meditation for the past few sessions, we have been discussing the first noble truth.  Namely, there is suffering [dukkha].

Beyond having the intellectualized discussions about how to translate the Pali word [dukkha] and whether or not we can call hunger pangs *suffering* -- I keep telling my meditation peeps that suffering, to me, is knowing that I am alive.

Just when I get comfortable, there are those twists and turns in the road.  That is life, impermanence, not being comfortable.  Comfort is the opposite of suffering, in a way, so it is an appropriate way to think about the first noble truth.

When we are comfortable, it is because we are not paying attention to life.  Life keeps rolling on, it does not have as its purpose to make us happy or comfortable, it just is.  It rolls on, ups and downs, discomfort and pleasure, breathing in and out.

Today, someone used me as a pawn ... and throwing my academic career like a bowling ball down the alley of life.  I was so angry... I tried to go through proper channels, I thought about not losing my cool, and then I just let her have it.  I did not personally attack her the way she did me.  I tried to make clear that I could see where and how she was doing this, but that I wasn't going to let her just back out quietly.

And then I made another call... and then I breathed again...  I am not sure if I handled any of it skillfully.  But in a way, I know that standing up for myself was being skillful.  It is easy to feel like a victim, begin the journey down self doubt, or even to villanize others.  I did not tread as lightly on her feelings as I would like to have ... but I wasn't exactly in a space of calmness when she called ... and that was the way I was allowed to talk to her ... on her terms.

Bumps but not bruises... I am off to deliver some care packages to some colleagues who are knee deep into a hazing ritual we justify by calling comprehensive exams. 

May all beings be at ease.

Photo credit: me, fancy camera.  That sign, again, and that crazy unknown road, NM.  See that storm coming over the mountain?  That is life, that is dukkha ... not suffering, just life.  

slight delays...

So, I do have three drafts that I have been working on, but none of them are ready for primetime.

Someday I may tell you about the keyboard with no "a" and the difficulties in expression it creates.

For now, I will share a story I read the other day. I thought for a moment I was reading an AP story, but it was on SFgate, the SF Chronicle site.  But, it is an AP story.  It was too balanced, too nuanced and too long to be something that any Chronicle reporter of late could produce.


Text follows just in case the link dies.

Latino-indigenous Mexican divide stirs Calif. town
By GOSIA WOZNIACKA, The Associated Press
Posted:  08/14/2011 5:37 AM

(08-13) 08:36 PDT Greenfield, Calif. (AP) --
Down wind-swept El Camino Real, where women in shawls push strollers and old men in cowboy hats linger on dusty benches, farmworkers spill from white contractor buses. From the main drag, it's only blocks to the fields and vineyards that sustain this peaceful town in the Salinas Valley, "the Salad Bowl of the World."
But there's tension in this part of John Steinbeck Country.
Nearly all of Greenfield's 16,300 people are Latino — and yet an ugly conflict has been brewing between longer-time residents and newcomers from another part of Mexico. Established residents say a massive influx of migrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca has changed their city for the worse.
Over the past decade, the migrants — Triquis, Mixtecs and other indigenous people who streamed from small mountain villages to Greenfield to plant and pick crops — spurred Greenfield's growth and now make up about  a third of the town's population. (They represent up to 30 percent of farmworkers in California and 17 percent nationwide, the U.S. Department of Labor says.)
They speak their own languages, not Spanish, they keep their own customs, such as arranged marriages, and, despite a longstanding tradition of sanctuary and tolerance in Greenfield, they remain separate.
In a town feeling heavily pressured by the economic crisis and gang activity, the influx of Oaxacans and their lack of understanding of U.S. customs has led to an ethnic clash.
It's a new round in a conflict as old as the United States, in which successive waves of immigrants have often feuded with each other. But what's happening in Greenfield is distinct, partly because the split here pits immigrants rooted in the same country, but also because of the hard look it's forcing the town to take at itself.
Rachel Ortiz became so displeased with the new migrants that, after more than five decades in Greenfield, she left her cul-de-sac home and moved to Salinas, 30 miles away.
Ortiz and others in newly-formed community groups complained that the Oaxacan families clustered in overcrowded apartments and garages, threw trash into the streets, thronged city parks, held loud parties. Some urinated in public and were involved in break-ins.
"It's fine when you live over there in Oaxaca," said Ortiz, 53, whose grandfather came from Mexico. "But here things are done differently. Here you have to maintain your home, your children, your job and yourself."
Ortiz, who works for a seed company on the edge of town, helped form "Beautify Greenfield." The group's goal was to clean up graffiti, trash and weeds. Its members decried the dilapidated apartment complexes scattered among neatly trimmed lawns and modest homes, the boarded-up windows splashed with gang insignia and rows of foreclosed homes.
Members of the group and its offshoot, "Save Greenfield," quickly pushed into city politics. They took to city council meetings, social media sites and local newspapers to air a series of escalating grievances against the Oaxacans.
Among Beautify Greenfield's charges: The new migrants ruined the town financially, "destroyed" its school system, caused violent crimes and were part of gangs, which are pervasive in the Salinas Valley. The migrants, "invaders from the south," should be deported.
The community groups were, in turn, labeled racist by the press and migrant leaders.
An unfair label, Ortiz said, considering members of Beautify Greenfield are mostly Mexican-American. The group was not against the Oaxacans per say, but just wanted to get rid of blight and crime, she said.
And she blamed Greenfield's Anglo police chief for favoring the migrants and allowing the city to deteriorate.
After a federal immigration raid in 2001, Greenfield city leaders voted in a symbolic sanctuary policy, and for seven years the city held monthly meetings — with the police chief a presiding figure — to help the Oaxacans adapt.
Today, Triqui leader Andres Cruz said he is shocked by the sudden shift in attitude of his once welcoming adopted city.
"We're all human beings, and some of us make mistakes. That doesn't mean the whole community is bad," said Cruz, who is 50.
Yes, there's great distance, geographically and culturally, between Greenfield and Oaxaca. Cruz's native Rio Venado, like many other indigenous villages, was isolated among jagged mountains. Villagers lacked drinking water, bathrooms, street lights, trash deposits and other comforts of civilization. Many couldn't even afford shoes.
Villagers cultivated crops — corn, beans, squash and coffee — within a communal farming system. They adhered to a strictly patriarchal society, practiced mandatory community service and arranged marriages with dowries.
At 13, to help his family make ends meet, Cruz left to work in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Baja California, and then 20 years later pushed on to Greenfield. He watched the community grow as the U.S. government clamped down on the border and crossings with a coyote became expensive and dangerous. Instead of going back and forth to their villages, indigenous people brought their families and stayed. Cruz got married and had three children, all born in Greenfield, all U.S. citizens.
But over time, Greenfield came to reflect some of the differences found in the old country. Dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, project director at UCLA's Center for Labor Research and Education, said the migrants brought remnants of racial and socio-economic conflict from Mexico, a multi-ethnic nation where 62 Indian groups still operate within their own language and culture. Oaxaca is Mexico's most diverse state, with 16 such groups.
In Mexico, Rivera-Salgado said, indigenous people are treated with prejudice, considered uneducated and inferior. The migrants — with their typically shorter stature and darker skin, pre-Hispanic languages and lack of legal immigration documents — stuck out in Greenfield, a city where established immigrants spoke English, had moved up the economic ladder and won their citizenship through birth or naturalization.
The migrants faced a double language barrier. Schools, clinics and even grocery stores posed tremendous challenges. So did poverty — on average, farmworkers earn about $10,000 per year. In the fields, the Indians often got paid less than other Latinos.
Still, Cruz said, it was better than going hungry in Oaxaca.
And at first, in Greenfield the government welcomed them and offered help.
"A light was born for us here," Cruz said. "The council, the police chief, they saw our poverty and the needs of our people and they have been very human with us."
Cruz and other indigenous leaders have had trouble grasping the meaning of Beautify Greenfield.
"It's a shame," said Eulogio Solano, a Mixtec leader. "Their fathers or grandfathers came to this country in the same way that our people are coming now."
Said UCLA's Rivera-Salgado: "After a group gets here and gets established, they tend to close the door behind them. There's always been this exclusion, especially in moments of crisis."
Greenfield's police chief Joe Grebmeier says he's an Anglo with a Mexican heart. He once proclaimed that apartheid-like conditions were prevalent in the Salinas Valley and he would not tolerate them in Greenfield.
Grebmeier, 56, who became chief in 2003, began to hold regular meetings to address Oaxacans' fear of police and teach them about U.S. law enforcement.
At the meetings, Cruz and others translated into Triqui and Mixtec laws on drunk driving, domestic violence and underage sex. Grebmeier focused on street lights and stop signs, urinating in public and keeping farm animals. Hundreds of indigenous migrants attended.
When residents asked him why he didn't arrest the "illegals," Grebmeier countered that hounding immigrants was not his job. And for the most part, federal immigration agents rarely conducted large sweeps in communities like Greenfield, populated by large numbers of undocumented farmworkers.
"These are hard-working, honest people who came here for the same reasons all immigrants came before them," Grebmeier said, "to make better lives for their families and their kids."
Over time, the scope of the meetings expanded. Teachers encouraged indigenous parents to read to their kids and attend parent-teacher conferences, counselors spoke about alcohol abuse, and nurses discussed diabetes. Then there were other issues.
In 2009, when a Triqui man was arrested in Greenfield after sending his 14-year-old daughter to marry a neighbor in exchange for beer, meat and cash, the news exploded into a national media sensation. Originally, the man faced charges of human trafficking and was accused of selling his daughter. But Grebmeier later concluded it was a case of arranged marriage and dowry exchange, which he used as a teaching moment. At the meetings, the chief explained that U.S. law prohibits such practices. The man was later deported.
But some locals complained that Grebmeier sheltered Oaxacans from the law. And the Greenfield city council canceled the meetings.
To members of Beautify Greenfield and Save Greenfield, the chief came to exemplify everything that had gone wrong.
Greenfield, Ortiz said, was once an ideal town. In the past, farmworkers — Mexican braceros, who came legally to work in agriculture — rarely ventured beyond the migrant camp outside city limits, where Ortiz's mother cooked their meals and where Ortiz grew up.
Today, she said, farmworkers live in the city and they are allowed to follow a different set of rules.
While some migrant defenders said they dropped offending habits after learning they were unacceptable, Ortiz said the chief's monthly meetings didn't teach the Oaxacans "anything." She also said the meetings were illegal, because they were open only to Oaxacans — a claim Grebmeier denies. Others accused the chief of embezzlement and participating in gang activity.
In the words of Save Greenfield member Matt Sileveira, Grebmeier's favoritism amounted to "extreme prejudice."
"All we want," said Silveira, who is of Portuguese descent, "is equal laws in the town."
Because of the chief's failure to enforce the law, Ortiz and Silveira said, crime increased. Beautify Greenfield kept count: 18 murders in 7 years, 16 unsolved. Grebmeier said those figures included some Greenfield residents killed in other cities. The actual number of homicides in Greenfield was 14 during that time period.
In any event, crime compounded the migrants' negative impact, Ortiz said, causing some people to move away, leaving Greenfield with foreclosed homes and failed businesses. "If anybody were to say it's all because of the Oaxacans, they would be wrong," Ortiz said. "But they're part of the reason."
Ortiz and others pushed for an audit of the police department, which a divided city council approved in February.
In April, about 300 indigenous men, women and children jammed the Greenfield city council chamber in support of Grebmeier. Some wore hand-woven, bright red huipils, traditional dresses and blouses. They waved red flags with the farmworker union's black eagle and held up "No to racism" signs.
Cruz and other indigenous leaders expressed gratitude for the police chief and their opposition to the audit. "The police chief is like a blanket," Solano, the Mixtec leader, said. "If they take off the blanket, they will be free to bring in someone like Arpaio" — a reference to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for tough anti-immigrant enforcement.
To Greenfield Mayor John Huerta, Jr., who voted against the audit, the conflict was about his city's very identity. "We have these hard core passionate feelings about how we identify ourselves as a city," he said. "Are we a farmworker community or do we promote a retail center and become more of an established upper income area where you have less lower income people? It's got to be a combination of both, but we're basically an agricultural town."
Grebmeier told city leaders that he gave no special treatment to the migrants: "If they commit a crime, we arrest them."
The increase in violent crime throughout the Salinas Valley, he said, was caused by gangs and their drug wars, not the influx of Oaxacan farmworkers. The homicide rate in nearby Salinas had doubled over the past few years and in 2009 stood over four times the national average. A gang member had even made an unsuccessful run for the Greenfield City Council. The indigenous migrants, Grebmeier said, were most often victims of crime, not criminals.
"During troubled economic times," Grebmeier said, "it's not unusual to blame the newcomers."
Instead, said United Farm Workers' vice-president Efren Barajas, long-time residents should accept the newcomers and their differences. "They're here and we need to live together in peace," Barajas said. "They're working here, raising their families, and they're not going anywhere. So it's better to make a carne asada with them in the park than to resist their presence."
At the end of June, the city council announced results of the police audit. Auditors found that the department was understaffed, officers used too much overtime, and some were late on training.
And earlier this month, in another packed meeting, the city council adopted a resolution of intent to eliminate the local police department, instead outsourcing policing to the Monterey County sheriff. The council would still need to vote on whether to approve the contract.
City manager Brent Slama said Greenfield has suffered severe losses in the collapse of the housing market and construction industry, and simply lacked funds to sustain its police.
Grebmeier wonders if this is the finale of a long campaign against his department. "There's always a chance I may lose my job and I'm concerned, but I don't see it happening," he said. "I think we'll adapt until the economy improves. What keeps me in this fight is how many people support us."
His department was chosen by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for a civil rights award recognizing its efforts in working with the indigenous community. Meantime, local supporters filed a petition to recall the councilors who supported the audit.
Looking ahead, the only certainty here lies in the verdant fields that surround Greenfield.
On a recent afternoon, under a blazing sun, Cruz walked down a never-ending row in a cabbage plot, bending to pull weeds with his calloused hands. Other indigenous workers weeded along parallel rows.
The Triqui leader was frustrated. His people were afraid. New migrants continued streaming in from Oaxaca for the harvest, and didn't have the benefits of the monthly meetings. Cruz said he didn't know what the future of his community would hold.
But he was happy to have a job.
Follow Gosia Wozniacka on Twitter at (at)GosiaWozniacka

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Quote Belongs in the Passion Journal

The decision to kiss for the first time is the most crucial in any love story. It changes the relationship of two people much more strongly than even the final surrender; because this kiss already has within it that surrender.

~Emil Ludwig

I swiped this quote from a rival of sorts. I like it, though I am fearful of the timing of her posting. Breathing in and out. I guess I am also hoping that Mr. Ludwig is correct.

Photo credit: me, digital camera (now dead), on a beach in NoCal, sometime in 2008-2009.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

zigging and zagging

Most of the past five or six weeks, I have gone to meditation, sometimes twice a week. I keep hoping that these sessions will spark the need and the desire (to combine into motivation) to sit at home everyday. So far, I have only gotten in a few home sitting sessions... five minutes. [I was inspired by another person there who shared he started with one minute at a time, adding a minute and working his way up to longer sessions.]

It is so important to get the mind quiet. Finally, after all these weeks, in the first few minutes, I have a little clarity. How do I know? Well, when I let go, something flashes in my mind. Some thought or feeling or idea that was trying to be heard but couldn't get in between the chaos of planning, regretting, parsing, and fretting.

Sometimes these moments of clarity come in dreams.

Sometimes they wake me up, like they did the other day. I woke to a word: confidence. It took all day and another community meditation session to really understand that message. But, once I did, it not only brought me solace, it gave me a road map.

Another came out of no where: recall rather than parse. It is really just a way to remind myself that I have a choice. I do not need to dive deep into the unending well of parsing. I don't have to create stories. I can recall situations, conversations, etc., without parsing. I can just relive, enjoy or feel. There is no need to react or try to control.

I was drawn to the photo above... I took several pictures of the sign with its surroundings. I didn't know why I liked it. I thought it was just the juxtaposition of the mountains and the sign and the road.

But, I am thinking that maybe it was something else.

I like that it is zigging and zagging but not up and down. I think it is representative of my life right now... though I haven't been on this particular road, but I imagine it is curvy like the sign.

I have been on many curvy roads. I enjoy them. They do not feel dangerous or out of control... they feel like the way life can go. Around the bend might be a beautiful flower or a dangerous cliff or the usual. It keeps you on your toes, but it doesn't have to be destabilizing.

I am working on how to live the way I drive on curvy roads (and enjoy the curves).

Photo credit: me, fancy camera, on the road to McCartys, NM. I took this side road to photograph something else, but I was captivated by the sign and the scenery.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

listening... the universe.
I opened up one of the Daily Oms I have been ignoring (saving). The title was "
Cultivating the Seed Within" -- the subtitle was "Peace." It was about meditation practice. This is what it said to me:
We can learn to locate the seed of peace inside ourselves in order to have a reliable source of serenity.

photo credit: me, digital camera (now dead), anonymous beach sculpture/structure. NoCal beach circa 2008-2009

Time Out

When I left fb, I did feel a little like I was disconnected from the Borg. However, it was well worth it. I don't miss the incessant chattering. Besides, plenty of other people are still on it, and I get the digest version of whatever my friends, the ones who I actually interact with in person or by phone, think is interesting or important.

People tell me all the time that they don't know how to get off of fb. And it is true that the folks over at fb aren't trying to make it easy.

So, even though I am already deactivated (no, I did not completely erase my fb presence), I found this article on how to disconnect from social network sites super interesting and useful!

Enjoy...and take a time out from the chatter whenever you want!

Photo credit: me, fancy camera, NM Sky...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

More on Ruben

You can almost feel the sadness in the writing; Hector Tobar recounts what he read in the files the LA County Sheriff Department released 40+ years after Ruben Salazar's tragic death.

It's sad to read, as well. There is no solace in discovering that Ruben wasn't necessarily specifically targeted. What a massive waste of talent...and for what?
As Hector points out, it is equally sad to read about how the times influenced the way police did business...
"Many of the documents reek of the paranoia of the day, common to so many American institutions in the Nixon era, when law enforcement saw it as their duty to harass dissenting groups. You can understand why a lot of people suspected Salazar was assassinated.

There's clear evidence of the "us versus them" mentality in the department."
...I guess, in a way, this blog post is a follow up to that other one last week. These times we are living in can bring out the best in us or the worst.

We are coming up on the 41st anniversary, August 30th. Here's to remembering his pioneering spirit, and his unwavering belief in the people and the movement... and hoping for better days for all of us.

Here are Ruben's adult children (and grandchildren) with an image of the stamp:
photo credits: all swiped from the internet ... thanks!

Monday, August 08, 2011

This Is NOT Cheating, I Swear

I am thinking ahead to how hard it is going to be with spotty technology to keep the blog updated.

I promise...there are two super long blogposts about this summer that are waiting to come out, and another that is too afraid to see the light of day, but it might just work out.

In any case, these are some bloggers who you need to visit, as Madonna would croon, for inspiration:

superhero -- I love her! Truly, madly, deeply... she keeps me going in many ways.

I was turned on to these ladies through the superhero. Even though I don't always feel their posts, or sometimes they make me turn around inside a couple of times, I am always glad I read them:

boho girl

In the web constellation that is the superhero's extended bloggy family, I also found this lovely lady. I am truly inspired by her to do the 100 steps walk with the camera before the end of the summer... preferably not on the hottest day of the year, but, then again, you can't always get what you want. [I am linking you the post I keep as unread as long as I can, you know, for inspiration.]

If those ladies are a little too mommy or too new agey or too whatever, try these ladies:

one of my besties, with the wildest mind...
I covet every thing this woman makes, but I love it all the more reading about her process, go figure... check out her etsy store too. [The second link is the ring I covet the most... If I were to EVER marry again, that would be the engagement ring I would need to have!]

Last, but certainly not least, I don't know how I came across this woman, but she is NO JOKE, and I love her. She writes about using social media; her research focuses on teens/youth and how they use social media. Everything she writes is insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking at the same time. It's not light reading, but it's a wonderful ride. I hope you love her, too!

While you read this, I am chained to the computer making a living working for the evil empire. ENJOY!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lucy

This post will barely make sense....

1) Happy 100th Birthday to Lucille Ball! I am not sure there would ever have been enough laughing in my life without her.

2) I read this story and needed to share it... and it doesn't even tangentially relate to Lucy ... except that the Lucille Ricardo was theoretically from upstate NY and so was this soldier... it's a big state, so it's useful.

3) I am too tired and overwhelmed [and disgusted with the snail's pace of my internet, when it works] with things that need to get done this weekend to look for pictures... so, good thing everyone knows what Lucy looks like, right? Check out her wikipedia page and these articles just in case.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Monsoon Season, Albuquerque Style

The summer months are monsoon season ... or at least they used to be. Folks here in New Mexico look at the sky and wonder: when is it going to rain? I think the local news was keeping a countdown when I arrived back from New Jersey. I can't remember what they were up to, but there hadn't been any rain.

Then a few weeks ago, it decided to rain, spritz really, a little bit in the evenings. Then we had some rain in the afternoon. One evening about two weeks ago, we had a long, slow rain. That's the kind you want when you are in a drought. It gives the rain a chance to be soaked up into the ground rather than just run to some other body of water: river, stream or drainage canal.

I would say, given my talks with some folks around here, that they are not used to having droughts here. The two years I have been here, I haven't seen a lot of rain, so I can't really judge if this seems to be seasonable or not. But, when I asked if folks had rain barrels, two out of three said no.

This morning, while I was making breakfast, I heard pitter patter and looked out the window to find RAIN lightly falling through half sunny skies.

I wasn't the only one who went outside to enjoy it:

photo credits: Me, fancy camera, two neighbor girls outside my front door.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

how could we turn the corner on this?

For years, whenever there was a police involved shooting, law-and-order types would argue that you cannot hold police officers responsible for deaths at their hands (murders) because if you do, then police officers will not be able to do their work properly. That is, they will stop putting their lives on the line for the public; they will be tentative in performing their duties because they will feel more vulnerable; etc. etc. etc.

It never occurs to those law-and-order types to consider the other side of the coin. Namely, that police officers will become increasingly cavalier with their use of force imagining that any time a death occurred at their hands that it would be deemed acceptable use of force.

Or, that the general public, particularly those more likely to be treated as suspect, would not be able to trust the police. It may not seem like the most important aspect of a police officer's effectiveness, to be trusted by the public. However, having the trust, and cooperation, of the public, is, in fact, a crucial part of getting the job done when it comes to peace officers and other law enforcement.

Recent public reaction to police use of force, beyond that in Oakland, speak to the limits of public patience and good will with over use of force or continued use of force over any other kind of restraint.

I hope that there is a way to turn the corner on this issue before there is full scale rebellion on any other front...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

ISP blues

update: the technician did say he was about 20 minutes (read 30-40) away on the day he wasn't supposed to show about 10 minutes before the end of the "window" of time allotted. So, I packed up and went home.

He told me that the issue was not the modem but the connection between the main line that comes into the apartment building and my apartment. He said there is nothing he can do about it.... I am supposed to be connecting at 1.5 something, but in my apartment it is at about in 100 and out 300, dismal, like having an old dial up modem. Awesome. I have 2o some days left with this service and then I have to figure out what to do. Talking to Verizon about the anywhere card... no other real choice. YUCK.
I hate my ISP. And there are really no alternatives because I already hated the other ISP in the area before I moved here.

Now I have no internet service, and I am theoretically waiting for the technician they said would arrive TOMORROW, 8/3. Yeah, that's how bad they are. They don't even know what day it is.

Today is 8/3. And to confirm, get this, they send me an email, which I could not receive until I left the house in search of internet service. In said email, they allow you to "track your service technician" but when I put in my account number, it says that no service is scheduled for me today. I should check back on the day I have service scheduled. Yeah... right.

I am plotting now where to go next for internet service ... when my TWO year contract is up at the end of this month. I am ALMOST considering going month to month just to have the option of getting out of something...

photo credits: ME, fancy camera, at Acoma Sky City. This is a shot of the wall. I wanted a picture of something LOW TECH that works.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Just when you are ready to give up, the universe does give signs. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own suffering that we don't see them, unless those signs are undeniable.

Today I am going to practice being grateful for all signs: small, almost imperceptible, regular, grand gestures... propitious, seemingly negative, fortuitous, and just neutral.

I am wishing you all the clarity to see the signs.

Photo credits: a beautiful place in Northern California. It was a take yourself to the beach day. I am not exactly sure where it is, but I could probably get there again. Sometime in 2008 or 2009.